Skip to main content

Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa is seen during a military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, in a March 23, 2017, file photo.

Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

Pakistan’s army chief visited Saudi Arabia on Monday in an effort to ease a row between the two countries over policy toward the disputed region of Kashmir.

The argument, brought on by Pakistani demands for Saudi Arabia to take a firmer line against India’s behaviour in Kashmir, has threatened Riyadh’s financial lifeline to Islamabad.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit was “primarily military-affairs oriented,” the Pakistani army spokesman said.

Story continues below advertisement

But Pakistani military and government officials told Reuters Bajwa would try to calm a situation that if not reversed could badly hurt Pakistan’s central bank foreign reserves.

The Saudi Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Fayyad bin Hammad Al-Ruwaili received Bajwa in Riyadh on Monday, the Saudi ministry of defence said in a statement on its website.

“During their meeting, they discussed prospects of military co-operation and ways to boost it as well as other topics of common interest,” the statement said.

A traditional ally, Saudi Arabia gave Pakistan a $3-billion loan and $3.2-billion oil credit facility to help its balance of payments crisis in late 2018.

Irked by Islamabad’s demands for Riyadh to convene a high-level meeting to highlight archrival India’s alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, Saudi Arabia has forced Pakistan to pay back $1-billion early and is demanding another $1-billion of the loan.

The Saudi government media office did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comments on the issue.

Riyadh has also not responded to Pakistani requests to extend the oil facility, military and finance ministry officials have told Reuters.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think our case is to convince them that there’s no foreign policy shift,” a senior Pakistani military official said. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both claim in full.

The Saudi-led Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) has only held low-level meetings over Kashmir despite Islamabad’s demands.

Analysts say Saudi Arabia does not want risk its business interests in India for supporting Pakistan over Kashmir. Riyadh might also have reservations over its foe Iran’s possible inclusion in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, they said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said last week that if Saudi Arabia did not convene a meeting on Kashmir, then Pakistan might call one involving Islamic countries that supported it on the issue.

Last year Islamabad withdrew from a forum of Muslim nations at the last minute on the insistence of Riyadh, which saw the gathering as an attempt to challenge Saudi’s OIC leadership.

Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, an influential Pakistani cleric, who went to Riyadh ahead of the general’s visit, was optimistic, saying Saudi King Salman bib Abdul Aziz and Crown Price Mohammad bin Salman have a long history of good relations with Pakistan.

Story continues below advertisement

“I don’t think things are so bad that as to say we are at daggers drawn,” he told Reuters.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies